When the Reach 1 of Namma Metro, from Baiyappanahalli to MG Road, was thrown open to public on October 20 last year, thousands gathered at stations for a ride. It became a new tourist destination.
The first Sunday, after the inauguration, saw a whopping 85,000 people take a ride on the Metro. As the days wore on, the joy rides got restricted to weekends and holidays and Namma Metro gradually started building a regular commuter base. Today an average of about 25,000 commuters use the Metro regularly.
“I don’t have to bargain with auto drivers if I have to go to MG Road, which to me is the biggest benefit of using Metro,” said Jakkapange Ranart, a student of Garden City College, originally from Thailand.
Ajay M, a general manager at a private firm in Ulsoor, takes the Metro to go to MG Road. “I don’t have to depend on auto drivers or use my car and, most importantly, I have to walk to stations, which gives me at least a little exercise,” he said.
For Deepa Raghavendra, a data manager, using Metro is all about safety. “I return from work at night. For me Metro is about safety. I feel safe in it even though I take the last train home. The experience would not be the same in a crowded bus,” she said, and added that it also has to do with the kind of people who travel in it.
In the coming days, the commuters will have more to look forward to. In about a month or two, there will be cafes and restaurants (giving only take-away food), laundry services, book shops and so on at some of the stations.
Bangalore santhe, a rural artisan’s hub located between SV Road and Baiyappanahalli stations, is nearly complete. The santhe, being built in the style of architecture in North and South Karnataka, will also exhibit folk artefacts and the culture of these areas.
The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) has also taken up rain water harvesting along its tracks and pillars. The systems are being put in place along the entire stretch.
The much missed boulevard on the MG Road will also be brought back in a few months. Construction of the two-level boulevard, which will also be a hangout with space for exhibition as well as performance, is under way. BMRCL officials hope it will be ready by early next year.
Even as Reach 1 operations enter its second year, one glaring lapse is the incomplete MG Road Metro station - it currently opens only to one side of the road, posing hazard to commuters. While construction for the other side began recently, it will take at least a year before it is complete.